A message from the Club Committee




Dear Member,

As there have been several changes to the Rules of Golf this year and various questions have been asked of committee members after competition rounds, it was agreed at a recent committee meeting that we would address some of the more common scenarios that occur when playing the Indiana Course, with a series of regular Rules Newsletters, of which this is the first in the series.

We all acknowledge that the Rules of Golf can be complex, at times perplexing, even occasionally irritating, but we hope that this series informs, enlightens and even, hopefully, entertains!

With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse…

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

It was a coolish day at Desert Springs, and the fire was crackling in the hearth, when in stomped young George Mitchell.

”it´s not fair”, he said, loudly to all who were in earshot, whether they were listening or not. “it´s just not fair”.

“I would have easily won the Club Championship finally this year, if it hadn´t been for that ridiculous ruling on the 5th by my playing partners, oh, and the racket from the drinks cart on the 11th when I was putting on the 6th green. Completely put me off my regular game”, he exclaimed, a shade too vociferously.

He looked around to find a sympathetic ear, but the only person in earshot seemed to be the Oldest Member, who was sitting, half-snoozing by the fire, with his glass of Coke.

Warily, he looked at the Oldest Member, and, just as he thought he might get away without the conversation being prolonged, the Oldest Member stirred, looked up at him and said, “Why, that reminds me of a time several years ago, when all manner of rulings brought down one of our other players”.

“I, er, just have to see to my scorecard”, said young George.

“This won´t take very long to explain”; said the Oldest Member. “Pull up a seat, and get me another Coke; one ice, mind you”.

Resignedly, young George sat down, knowing that this was his punishment from the golfing gods for tempting fate so badly…

“It was a few years ago”, started the Oldest Member. “We had a fine player, by the name of Chris, good chap, although he had the misfortune of being a Yorkshireman.”

Now, as I remember it (said the Oldest Member), the other two chaps in his group, were also Yorkshiremen, bit of a rum coincidence that. Self-made men, they all claimed to be as well, which was probably for the best – it relieved the Almighty of a great responsibility, otherwise…

Anyway (he went on), after a good 1st day, our chaps had had a sprightly start to the front 9 in Round 2, with all three within a shot or two of par and each other.

Misfortune began to rear its head when they arrived at the 6th hole, The Gambler.

John, in an audacious effort to gain shots on his playing partners pulled his driver in an attempt to reach the green in one mighty swipe.

Unfortunately (and rather surprisingly, as he was noted for his particularly straight driving), his ball veered off to the right at the end of its flight, heading towards the Red Penalty Area bordering the right side of the hole.

“Dash it!” he exclaimed. “I think that may have gone in the penalty area”.

“I´m not sure” said Chris, carefully, “you may need to play a Provisional Ball. That may have cleared the penalty area, it was so wide, and if it´s in doubt, then it could be a Lost ball”.

Rather reluctantly, John declared that he would play a provisional ball, and played a more careful tee shot with a 7-iron.

When they reached that ball, John said, “I think I can play another shot with my provisional ball, can´t I, as we haven´t reached my original ball”?

Chris nodded. “Aye, lad” he said “until the provisional ball is no nearer the hole than where we think your first is, that´s fine”.

John played his shot to the green quietly and the three of them walked up to the penalty area to look for his tee shot.

After they had looked for a minute or so, Bob called out “here´s one, what ball are you playing”?

“A Titleist 1, with a very small and faint black dot on the side, right by the Pro V1x stamping” replied John.

“That´s it, then”, said Bob, “bit of luck finding that one, but I don´t think you´ll fancy the lie”.

When John took a look, he could see what Bob meant. The ball was stuck in the middle of a bush, and clearly unplayable. “Ok, that is my ball, and you´re right, I can´t play that” said John, “what are my choices, Chris”?

“Well, as we´ve found your original ball, your provisional is now out of play and must be picked up”, said Chris.

“As you´re in a red penalty area, you can´t proceed under the Unplayable Ball rule (Rule 19) but must use the Red Penalty area options in Rule 17”.

Under that rule, really, you have 4 choices; you could play it as it lies, or you have 3 options to take relief outside the penalty area with one penalty shot.

1) Go back to the tee where you last played from and play from there again (Ed. Known as Stroke and Distance Relief)

If you don´t want to do that, then, we need to find the spot where you crossed the margin of the penalty area last, and then you can

2) drop as far back on a straight line to the pin as you want from that spot, (Ed. Known as Back on the Line Relief) or

3) drop within 2 club-lengths of that spot (Ed. Known as Lateral Relief),

as long as you´re no nearer the hole than where you crossed the margin in either of those cases”.

“Hmm, I don’t much like any of those”, said John, “but, I suppose, when you take a risk…”

“Looking at the way the penalty area curves, and how the ball was flying, it looks to me like the ball probably last crossed the margin back there, where the rough curves out a bit, because it would have flown over the penalty area, crossed back into the rough, and then crossed back into the penalty area again”, said John, pointing to a spot about 90 yards further back.

Chris and Bob looked at each other and nodded, “that be about right, lad”, said Chris.

They all walked back and marked the spot.

“Now, if I go back on line with the pin, which is up there” pointed out John, “then I´d be dropping in the penalty area unless I went back at least another hundred yards or so, to the opposite side”.

“Aye” said Chris, “and you´re not allowed to drop back in the penalty area, so you´d have to go all the way back from here”.

“I think that rules out Option 2 then, I think I´ll take Option 3. Where exactly can I drop here?”

Chris pointed out the spot they´d agreed where the ball crossed the margin. “You get a 2-club-length Relief Area from here” he said, “no nearer the hole than here, and not in the penalty area, so, that´s going to be about a quarter circle; when you drop the ball, it must land inside that area, and stay inside it”.

“Oh, I don´t get another 2 club-lengths of roll after it´s bounced?” said John, in a surprised tone.

“No, lad, that rule changed a long time ago…” said Chris, “it has to land and stay in the relief area these days”.

With that clear, John dropped his ball and played up to the green from there, musing resignedly on how his careless shot had cost him yet another stroke, instead of gaining one…

To be continued…